Womens Rights Essay Research Paper Throughout many

Womens Rights Essay, Research Paper Throughout many years preceding World War I, many women were not happy with their jobs. In 1870 most women worked in the agriculture of their homes, or did

Womens Rights Essay, Research Paper

Throughout many years preceding World War I, many women were not happy with

their jobs. In 1870 most women worked in the agriculture of their homes, or did

domestic service. Even by 1910 though, more women were already working in

factories, offices, stores and telephone exchanges. As opposed to 14.8% in 1870,

24% of women were now working in 1910. The practices of withdrawing from work

once married and only returning when necessary (i.e. husband?s salary

decreased, laid off, injured, desertion) was unfortunately still being widely

accepted and practiced. The birth of modern corporations began to change the

location and nature of women?s paid labor and was an important factor in the

advancement of women?s labor (Greenwald 5). Multi plant firms began to

transform the structure of business, as well as adding an element of elementary

competition. There were still although a few financial giants, created by vital

industries, such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Swift, Borden, whose

practices ultimately determined how people lived, and what they bought

(Greenwald 7). As large factories increasingly began to replace older and

smaller factories, skilled work became less needed and women even started to

make goods as machine tenders. Already, this reorganization was improving women?s

status in the work force. There was although a great deal of gender segregation,

women were low paid and restricted to unskilled and semiskilled jobs, usually in

textile mills, food processing, apparel, tobacco factories, and commercial

laundries. Men of course were given jobs concerning transportation and heavy

industry. Unfortunately, as heavy industry became increasingly important, it

resulted in fewer opportunities for women because companies were hiring more

men. Another factor of unfairness was the fact that women were barred from

apprenticeship programs resulting in the loss of better-paid and more

sophisticated jobs in the metal industry (Greenwald 11). World War I though

would provide a great opportunity for women to get ahead and although the

movement into the work force was already underway, and it would certainly

provide as a stimulus. As a result of World War I and changing social views,

women?s role and place in American Society changed greatly.

The results of World War I on women?s place in society can be seen clearly

in statistical evidence. Between 1910-1920 there was a dramatic increase in

women in offices as clerks and in semi-skilled jobs, such as typists, cashiers,

and typists. At the same time although, there was a decrease of women cleaners,

tailoresses, dressmakers and servants. As the men began to leave for war from

America, more women began to work, the substantial change although was not the

number of new entrants in the work force, but the numbers of women changing jobs

and the new opportunities being opened to them. Many women decided to change

jobs in hopes of better opportunities. Increased job standardization,

specialization of work and increasing supervision resulted in making many jobs

interchangeable. Women cashiers for instance would become fare collectors or

retail workers would move to office work. This was called skill dilution and it

enabled workers to move from one area to another. As the war progressed there

was a greater need for American War materials, and after the 2nd draft of men in

late summer, the male workforce was greatly decreased. Companies began to beg

for workers, especially those that had contracts to fill and war resources to

supply. Businesses realized the number of women who could work and began to

print ads saying ?Women Wanted?. Bridgeport munitions even distributed

flyers from an airplane urging women to leave their homes and work. This created

many new opportunities for women, and they soon realized that. As women changed

jobs and took over those formally done by white men, black women took the

opportunity to do those formally of white women. This was the first time a white

woman could chose her job, and she took it very seriously and to its full

advantage. Many women researched, sought advice, and did other things in order

to choose the best job possible (Greenwald 35). The rise in the productions of

war resources needed drew thousands of women into the iron and steel industries

as well. Women even began to produce explosives, fireworks, and even medicines.

During the war, women did 20% of the manufacturing in the electrical industry.

Women started to engage in untraditional jobs, such as grinding and drilling due

to the absence of men as well. In all cases women looked for the best

opportunities, for they saw the job of a switchboard operator more secure than

that of dipping chocolates (Greenwald 46). In 1917, 99% of women were

switchboard operators, compared to 24% in 1914. The war depended on women and

men to work together.

Women were quick to see the war as a good opportunity to improve their

economic status in the society and took full advantage of this. The recognition

of women by others and the government for their efforts illustrated to them

their importance in the war effort. The Secretary of War, Navy, the President,

and many other officials all recognized women and their importance in the

attempt to win the war. Thus, women saw the war, as a liberating experience and

it was important to them to support the war effort (Braybon 15). Before the war

there were a few women wage earner organizations and trade unions, but during

the war union membership grew a great deal. Women began to join ranks of

formally male unions, such as the federation of Federal Employees, and the

Brotherhood of Railway Clerks. In 1919, many household workers began to form

local organizations for the purpose of bettering wages and working conditions in

Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma. The war fortunately hit at a time when cooperate

capitalism was creating new technology and in turn new jobs and labor policies.

Because of this new structure, women?s paid employment was changing and

increasing opportunities in workplace and in autonomy were occurring (Greenwald

45). Women took their opportunity to its full potential, realizing how much they

were needed. Many women would accept many jobs at one time and return to the one

they preferred the most. This was called labor turnover, and it caused an

increased wage period in the US, but it also caused the companies to change

their policies and create more advantages for their employees. Women seized

opportunities to petition for fairer labor policies and struck at workplaces for

better pay and conditions. Women began to stand up for their rights because they

were needed (Greenwald 47). Corporations began to experiment with training

programs for women and the federal government also began to create agencies to

establish safe and sanitary working conditions for women in order to oversee

their introduction into male dominated work.

The impact of World War I on women workers created an impetus for the

creation of agencies to protect women?s rights. In 1919 both the Women?s

Branch in the Ordnance Department of the Army was created, and the Women?s

Service Section of the US Railroad Administration. At this time employers were

hiring because of work force shortage and they were still implementing policies

which served their own interests. Soon they started to implement welfare

policies though and 200 even added employment offices to help put women workers

in the jobs best suited for them. 400 companies in 1919 began to expand their

welfare measures, such as medical care, lunchrooms, bathrooms, and clubs, to

attract women employees. This was one of the first attempts that companies began

to make which accommodated their employees needs more than their own.

There were two training programs during the war, which received much

publicity and created a basis for years to come (Greenwald 87). One was the

Recording and Computing Machinery Corporation in Dayton, Ohio, and the other was

the Lincoln Motor Company of Detroit, Michigan. The Recording and Computing

Machinery Corporation created separate training facilities for women, ensured

strict supervision, paid special attention to inefficient workers, and created a

fair system of pay bonuses. Their training school even consisted of female

teachers to increase women?s confidence, although they were supervised by a

male supervisor. The women would begin with ten days of training at a low pay,

and from then move on to regular jobs. To ensure the work of the boss for each

department was successful, bonuses were offered to the boss whose women produced

the most output, but they were warned not to exhaust their workers. Both in the

Recording and Computing Corporation and in the Lincoln Motor Company, women

began to receive wages for piecework completion instead of just hourly wages.

Lincoln Motor Company had their own ideas although. They believed in a system of

strict surveillance to protect women workers. On top of that they hired women

only with ?good character? and did not allow men and women to mingle. To

make sure they did not communicate, the company gave men and women different

rest periods, different entrances to company restaurants and alternate stopping

times (Greenwald 85). To increase the employment of women workers and to satisfy

them although, they did give social club dinners on a monthly basis for the

women. In 1919 they even thought about starting a women?s orchestra, singing

club, and baseball and basketball teams. All this was done so that the company

would have a part in every aspect of the women worker?s lives.

In 1918 the government also began to take a greater part in the aspect of

labor policies realizing the dramatic increase of women in new areas of work. In

1914 out of the total iron workforce, there was only 2.3% women workers, but in

1918 after the 2nd draft for the war, 95% of workers were women. There was a

great need for cannons, rifles and other army and defense equipment. In 1918 the

government ordered a policy for federal companies, based on the recommendations

of the Women?s Bureau of Ordnance. It restricted the workday to 8 hours,

created a fair wage scale, limited physical work done by women, and enforced

existing state legal standards for employment of women. The Women?s Bureau of

Ordnance helped to create more stable and safe positions for women along with

other organizations and unions.

During the period of World War I when women were beginning to see their self

worth, many women reformers emerged. Mary Van Kleeck and Mary Anderson were just

two of the many that impacted the lives of many women. These two women were

chosen by the Chief of Ordnance to be the principal advisors on the ordnance

matters for women. Kleeck lectured on industries and disorders within

corporations and factories throughout much of 1917 and 1918. By June of 1917 she

had also published three books on the matter. In response to the new range of

female employment the Labor Department also created the Women in Industry

Service (WIS) which was directed by Kleeck. She believed that the war created a

great potential for interesting new order in the industry and society (Greenwald

89). As a reformer Kleeck inspected many arsenals and consulted government

officials and experts to decide what should be changed. Although her goals did

not have any legal force, this was the first time the federal government had

taken a stand on improving working conditions for women. Her fellow reformer

Mary Anderson believed that wage earners and middle class reformers should work

together to change working conditions (Greenwald 67). To do her job, Anderson

took many different positions doing many different jobs in order to gain much

work experience. By the end of WWI she herself had worked in at least 19

different jobs. From her experience she expected the government to launch a

program of social and economic regulation to benefit women workers. Many

reformers believed in wise management of jobs, personal and social efficiency,

fair wages and decent conditions. Reformers saw women as substitutes for men

during the war and saw this time as an opportunity to expand and promote women?s

postwar status (Greenwald 69). Many reformers also believed that women should be

given some advanced training and further schooling equal to that of men so that

they could properly substitute for them. Reformers were eager to get women in to

promising and more advantageous ?men?s? jobs. The Women?s Branch of

Ordnance Department even introduced ways to train women (Greenwald 70). At the

end of 1918, the Women?s Branch had expanded into many district offices. These

offices would test jobs for women, and whatever job by actual trial that the

Women?s Ordnance officer could do she sanctioned for other women. This

introduced people to a host of many new job opportunities that women were

capable of fulfilling. The Women?s Branch succeeded in creating 8-hour days

for many new companies and also tried for equal wages. This policy of equal

wages although was the most difficult to achieve during the war because fair

wages were given by employers who had highly profitable contracts, but those

with a fixed sums and contracts were not able to afford it (Greenwald 77). This

was an important factor although, and the discrepancy between men?s and women?s

wages was unacceptable. For example, in the Rock Island Arsenal the maximum rate

of pay for a skilled female was $3.20/day, while that of a minimum male starting

position was $3.68/day.

One of the most favorable and important industries during World War I was

railroad work. This was because of the federal control of railroads taken during

the war to secure transportation problems that may arise. In order to make sure

they would have no problems with workers, the government created a nationwide

standard of 8-hour days, decent wages, well designed grievance procedures and a

senior system for regional promotions and lay-off within all rails. The war

emergency provided a stimulus for national policy of equal work for equal pay

and it allowed women to begin to gain entrance into uncommon employment and

occupational advances within railroad labor. This is one of the many reasons the

rail attracted women workers.

After the signing of the Armistice in November 1918, women employed in

railway offices, yards and shops faced the critical problem of holding on to

their jobs. . The men did not like the idea of women taking over their jobs.

Many of them challenged women and the post-war labor reduction hit women hard.

In many cases the seniority policies of companies was broken and women were laid

off. Unions helped to protect some women and keep their jobs, but as husbands

returned, women reluctantly gave up their jobs and returned home much of the

time. One agency which was greatly changed was the telephone company in which

the women took many measures to keep their jobs and succeeded by cutting off

communication weeks at a time and bringing the company to its knees. Although

many women were fired when the war terminated, they had ultimately found a new

sense of self worth for themselves and a greater awareness of what they could

accomplish. In essence, the war gave an opportunity for women to realize what

they were capable of and gave many of them much work experience equal to that of

men?s. As a result of the war, women no longer accepted degraded job

opportunities and unfair wages. Through the creation of Labor Organizations and

Unions they sought to protect their rights. Women took the outbreak of the war

to its full potential, opening as many doors for themselves as they could and

proving what they could accomplish. Through their great accomplishments and the

realization of corporations of how much they were needed, women in America

created a new image of themselves. The opportunities given to women as a result

of the war allowed them to think more freely and expand their horizons. After

the war ended, many had to give up their jobs, but those who worked did not

return to the old standards. For the first time, the federal government

recognized the rights of women in the work force and their importance in times

of need.